(On Screen): Rob Foote writes about the new anti-Americanism.
The Twentieth Century was the site of the battleground of socialism and capitalism. Towards the end of the century, capitalism won. Its victory was unexpected, and unexpectedly swift, but near-total and unqualified. The free market triumphed over the command economy, and liberal democracy defeated the secret state, virtually everywhere they were in conflict....
In 2002, long before the Left became exercised by the USA's war plans for Iraq, Icon Books in the UK published a curious little book, entitled Why Do People Hate America? by Ziauddin Sardar, a postmodernist cultural critic, and Merryl Wyn Davies, said to be a writer and anthropologist. It was written as a commentary on the events of September 11. Not encouragingly, its cover carries an endorsement from Noam Chomsky.
It's not a non-mainstream book. It is commonly found in bookshops around Canberra, and presumably elsewhere in Australia. So it can be reasonably taken to be a book with some popular cachet. From page 195 on, it articulates what the authors see as the principal reasons for the hatred in which America is allegedly universally held.
First, the existential: "The US has simply made it too difficult for other people to exist." The USA has contrived to structure the international economy to guarantee perpetual enrichment of itself, and abject poverty for everyone else (at least, the non-Western world).
Second, the cosmological: America has replaced God as the "cause of everything". Further, imperial America is engaged on a project that involves the consumption of all time and space, and aspires to consuming all non-American people; "Inducted into the cosmological structure of America, the rest of the world will vanish."
The third is ontological: America has replaced the notion of "good" with the notion of itself, as the binary opposite to "evil". Thus, America can only be good and virtuous, and only America can be such.
The fourth is definitional: American has assumed the right to define what it means even to be human, and that only in terms of its own identity. American values are therefore the only ones that any longer actually are.
Two things might immediately be said about this. One: it is transparent nonsense, evidencing a seriously deformed kind of intellectualism. (The whole world is no more than items on America's fast-food menu - literally the imperialist's snack, for heaven's sake.) Two, and more disturbingly: replace "America" with "the Jews", and you begin to get some idea of where this is coming from.
The "facts" of American evil and the hatred felt for it are not argued from circumstance or evidence: they are derived from an intellectual horizon wholly indifferent to logic. The evil is pre-assumed, cosmic and all-encompassing. It impacts the very basis of our reality, evidenced by the philosophies by which we understand it. America's evil is inherent, insistent and inevitable. And it is intended, deliberate and engineered, out of a spirit of pure, unadulterated malignance towards the non-American world. To Sardar and Davies, America is not a country at all, but rather a poisonous psychic space, and an infectious effluvium.
Think that's hyperbole? I don't. May I present, for your viewing pleasure, Mr. Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey? He writes for Pravda, and as we all know, Pravda means Truth. His online bio is really quite bizarre:
I incidentally became involved with the world of music and even became one of the leading English song-writers of the 1980s. I took part in three Eurovision contests, released three albums, two maxi-singles and five singles. That was the time when I started establishing contacts with the press. "I had to give a lot of interviews for television and newspapers. I noticed that facts were reinterpreted on numerous occasions, almost always, in order to make an article correspond to ideas of a reporter. One fine day I realized that there was only one way to strive for the truth: to write a true story and to send it to mass media outlets. That's what I did."
I showed my first articles to a friend, a reporter, who expressed his interest in them and asked my why I did not take up journalism seriously. After that, I finished journalism courses, and worked as a freelance journalist at Portuguese, Spanish, Latin American, English and Romanian media outlets. However, journalism was not my only occupation. "I believe that there is nothing more boring for a journalist than to sit at table, working on the so-called news, which has already been picked out from the Internet by someone, retelling someone else's stories. In addition to that, it is proof of the absence of professionalism, it is not worth it, in the long run. I like to visit new places, to collect new material for my own articles."
Why the quotes? The entire bio is written in first person, so why is some of it quoted and some not? It feels as if it was actually written by someone else on his behalf, based on interviews and his body of work, and the unquoted parts were written by the ghost.
Or it feels like it was written by someone whose grip on his own identity is weakened, and who simultaneously sees himself as both self and as other.
Bancroft-Hinchey's bio includes links to some of his columns. So let's see if you can get some inkling of his political point of view from their titles, shall we?
Pretty cool, huh?
Clearing up after NATO. Yugoslavia was an idyllic land of multicultural brotherhood and peace and prosperity, and then the evil Americans forced the Europeans to go in and screw it all up.
Before this however, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was a prosperous country with a motivated, happy workforce which enjoyed a relatively high standard of living.
Along came NATO, its strings pulled by Washington, to create havoc and chaos in the region by means of its criminal intrusion, against which Serbia had to fight to protect its citizens, thousands of which were slaughtered by the Croats and Muslims and Kosovar terrorists. Yet Milosevic was the one dubbed the Butcher of the Balkans, a label easy to stick since he had been systematically isolated by the arms of the octopus whose head resides on Capitol Hill....
Social integration? This would never have been necessary had NATO not interfered and provided the steam for the pressure cooker to explode, after sealing the lid and buying the ingredients.
Kosovar Albanians and Serbs lived together like brothers, side by side, for centuries, before the west decided to stick its imperialist nose into an area which did not belong to it and which it wholly failed to understand.
This act of criminal intrusion destroyed the social fabric of large areas of the Balkans, sowing hatred where none existed and reaping the benefits of the ensuing chaos.
The world's greatest travesty of justice is the trial of Milosevic, of course.
A sick, elderly, frail man sits in court, his face flushed due to high blood pressure and the injustice of the last four years, as he strives to defend himself against the crimes he is accused of by a kangaroo court which is not recognized by the USA and which is derided by Israel as having no jurisdiction....
No mention of the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by NATO, which strafed trains full of civilians, buildings, schools, buses, killing hundreds of innocent people.
No. It was much easier to blame one man, isolate him and kidnap him, hold him in detention illegally and then trump up a myriad of charges against him which everyone knows he did not commit. This was Clinton's Freedom and Democracy. As for Bush's, well, recent history speaks for itself.
So what about Bush? Well, he should be on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Bush should follow Saddam into the dock. After all, Bush is worse than Saddam. Is there anything Saddam has been accused of that Bush hasn't also done, only worse? And hasn't Bush done other terrible things which Saddam wasn't even capable of? Besides which, the US is actually responsible for all the crimes Saddam is accused of.
Saddam Hussein is accused of a number of crimes committed during his Presidency of Iraq. An analysis of four years of government under the Bush regime reveals some shocking parallels.
Saddam Hussein is supposed to have sent people to their deaths as President of Iraq. George Bush sent people to their deaths as Governor of Texas.
Saddam Hussein is accused of being responsible for acts of torture committed during his presidency.
However, George Bush was President when the prison at Abu Ghraib in Baghdad was turned into a medieval torture chamber by US military personnel and George Bush is today President and the tortures continue at Guantanamo Bay....
Saddam Hussein is accused of committing acts of mass murder. Would these mass murders be including the need to put down armed insurrection inside his own country after the United States had interfered, financed and armed the insurgents/terrorists? And is George W. Bush not responsible, as Commander in Chief of his country's Armed Forces, for the ten thousand civilian deaths during this illegal war, including one thousand children? Is George W. Bush not responsible for the mutilation of thirty-five thousand people, their legs and arms and faces and futures blown away by his Armed Forces? Is George W. Bush not responsible for the cluster bombs deployed in civilian areas or the Depleted Uranium munitions which left swathes of Iraqi territory radio-active?
Does George W. Bush think he can target civilian infra-structures with precision weaponry, destroy sewage and water and electricity supply systems, hand the contracts without tender to his friend Richard Cheney and walk free?
Are the United States and the international community not ultimately responsible for millions of deaths inside the Iraq that Saddam Hussein was trying to govern, his task made impossible just because he refused to allow the Americans access to control his economy?
This is not Saddam. In fact, Bush should precede Saddam into the dock, because the man they're putting on trial isn't actually Saddam. (And the murders of Uday and Qusay were also faked.)
When a liar is clever and careful, he is convincing because he is plausible and covers all his tracks. However, the longer the lie is spun out, the more clues are left. The Bush regime has been neither clever, nor careful nor plausible in its disastrous foreign policy, which culminates in parading a "Saddam" before the cameras who is certainly not the real Saddam Hussein, ex-President of Iraq....
Next was the story of the murder of Saddam Hussein's sons, Ouday and Qusay, who were mysteriously together (when common sense would tell them to split up) with another man and a boy in a farmstead in the middle of a plain west of Baghdad. The story went as follows: hundreds of troops and a fleet of helicopter gunships finally killed the four after several hours of fighting.
This story sounded like the child trying to justify the fact that he had forgotten his homework, claiming that the dog ate it, the house caught fire and that someone stole his school bag on the way into the classroom. The photographs were not shown to the public immediately and when they did appear, Iraqis across the country shook their heads in disbelief, claiming that these were not Saddam's sons.
Then came the pictures of the hitherto clean-shaven, articulate, educated and proud Saddam Hussein, crawling out of a hole, disheveled, bearded and dirty, supposedly in December but with the date trees laden with mature fruits, which only takes place in August in that part of the world. Another strange occurrence....
Now, the Holy Grail is offered by Joe Vialls, who sent his article "Shaddam Shaddam's new Vaudeville Scam" to Pravda.Ru this morning. In this piece he points out that all photographers were banned from photographing "Saddam" in court for security reasons but then the CNN arrived in the person of Christiane Amanpour, who immediately started shooting hundreds of metres of video footage, which was then transformed into stills.
Here was the mistake. As Mr. Vialls points out, the real Saddam Hussein had a fine set of teeth, completely even, in which the upper jaw closed over the lower (overbite). The figure paraded in court, as it is easy to see, has highly irregular lower teeth and a condition called "underbite", when the lower teeth close in front of the upper.
Touche. Dental records cannot lie. The set of teeth of the President of Iraq and the set of teeth of the man paraded before the cameras pretending to be Saddam Hussein are wholly and totally different.
The man they have in court is not the real Saddam Hussein. Yet another lie by this Bush administration is exposed. How much lower can this clique of criminals sink?
Let's take a quick detour for a moment and consider Joe Vialls. Google turns up this home page. And this one. He seems to be a big one for conspiracy theories, such as his contention that the Bali explosion was actually caused by an Israeli micro-nuke:
It was precisely 11.30 p.m. on Saturday 12 October 2002, when someone somewhere pressed a button that sent a single coded radio-squirt to an underground aerial located in a monsoon drain outside the Sari Club in Bali. An unseen circuit closed and a primer fired, then one-millionth of a single second later, a terrible fireball formed under the street. Less than six inches in diameter and burning at a staggering 300,000 degrees centigrade, the fireball was a perfect shimmering sphere, made possible by 99.78% Plutonium 239 manufactured at the Dimona nuclear facility in the Negev Desert.
Five microseconds passed while this fission monster from hell expanded, then the already-cooling fireball tore its angry way out into the street above, vaporizing all victims standing within thirty feet while simultaneously spreading two tons of deadly microscopic roadbed shrapnel in a lethal arc across Kuta Beach. Every survivor standing in direct line-of-sight of its awesome ultraviolet emission received terrible flash burns, the like of which three eminent Australian burns surgeons would later claim on TV they “had never seen before”.
Less than ten-millionths of a second after the monster achieved critical mass, its searing thermal wave set fire to twenty-seven buildings in the immediate area, and spontaneously ignited automobiles parked two blocks away from ground zero. But as you will read later in this report, no ordinary Geiger counter from any nation could detect radiation from the weapon.
The years rolled by and top-secret projects were initiated in America and Israel to replace the old SADM with its overly heavy weight and excess radioactivity, culminating in the successful development and testing at Dimona during 1981 of the “new” micro nuclear device. Using advanced nuclear physics, the scientists found a way of detonating the new “suitcase” bomb without the use of a Uranium 238 reflector, and further refined the Plutonium 239 in its core to 99.78%. These measures resulted in a weapon considerably smaller and lighter than SADM, which also had another enormous advantage.
The new Dimona micro nuke was the very first critical weapon that could be used in “stealth” mode. Gone was the dirty Uranium 238 reflector, and up went the purity of the smaller Plutonium 239 core. You see, Plutonium emits only alpha radiation, which for all practical purposes is “invisible” to a standard Geiger counter. If you do not believe me then ask the American Environmental Protection Agency, whose staff will confirm this.
Having established the bona fide of Mr. Vialls, here's the article about Saddam which Mr. Bancroft-Hinchey found so convincing and so damning for the damned Americans:
Before getting technical about the problems with Shaddam, it is probably wise to understand why the Zionists took this massive chance in exposing an obvious fake, best summed up by the sheer desperation of American-appointed & controlled Deputy Foreign Minister Hamid al-Bayati, a loose-tongued Iraqi traitor who was stupid enough to admit yesterday, ""I think the trial will slow down the attacks and the insurgency because Saddam Hussein loyalists will lose hope."...
Allowing Shaddam to open his mouth at all in court was a serious error of judgement, because like fingerprints used by law enforcement agencies, teeth and dental work are absolutely unique, in this case proving one-hundred-percent that Shaddam never was and never could be President Hussein. If you look closely at the photo-composite at the top of this page, you will see four small inset photographs of President Hussein. In all of them you can clearly see his neat white even teeth, made possible in part by the fact that Iraq has [or had] more dental surgeons per head of population than any country in the world apart from Libya. This expert dental service was free to all Iraqis, and President Hussein's teeth were and are in pristine condition.
Mr. Bancroft-Hinchey himself is at his mouth-foaming raving best in the article which first drew my attention to him: Iraq, the crowning glory of George W. Bush. It is a masterpiece. I almost feel as if I am despoiling a great work of art by extracting out only small portions of it, but it is much too long to fully quote, let alone to give each section the response it merits, thus I urge you strongly to read it in its entirety. If you only choose to look at one of his posts, this should be the one.
Rarely have I seen such a pure and concentrated distillation of leftist anti-American talking points. I'm hard pressed to think of any he's left out. Here, for instance, is his summation of all issues Iraqi:
Bush's Freedom and Democracy campaign, winning hearts and minds through shock and awe tactics is a stunning reminder of how jingoistic and xenophobic beliefs held by simpletons, applied as crisis management policies by the organisms of a nation such as the USA, can step over the line containing the lunacy which has only been seen before in cases such as Hitler's Nazi Germany.
The slaughter of innocent civilians is there, the torture chambers are there, the targeting of civilian homes with Weapons of Mass Destruction is there, the murder of kids is there, the rape of countless innocent women is there.
It's all there, as Iraq descends into a spiral of chaos. Is Iraq a better country? Do Iraqis have job security like they had before? Are the civilian infrastructures better after they were targeted with precision weaponry? Is Iraq any more secure? Is Iraq free from the massacre of civilians? Is Iraq free from torture? Apparently not.
The legacy of Bush is that Iraq's society has been destroyed, the country's infrastructures have been trashed, the country is in chaos and brimming with terrorists. There is no connection whatsoever between Saddam Hussein and international terrorism and the Bush regime knew it all along.
I have also rarely seen such a marvelous demonstration of what the SCOTUS refers to as "reckless disregard for the truth".
Mr. Bancroft-Hinchey ends his piece thusly:
George Bush and his regime have stuck a knife into the back of the diplomatic community. Washington's diplomacy these days is seen as intrusion, bullying, blackmail, forgery and barefaced lies.
George Bush and his regime lied systematically about any cause of war in Iraq. They lied to their nation, they lied to the international community, they lied to the world. Curiously, comparing Saddam Hussein and Bush, the one telling the truth was the former. About Bush we can now say "This man stiffed the world".
Tens of thousands of civilians have been murdered in cold blood. Cluster bombs have been dropped in civilian areas. DU weaponry has been deployed, leaving high radioactive levels in parts of Iraq. The Geneva Convention has been broken. Torture was committed on a widespread scale and with the full knowledge of high-ranking officials in the Bush regime. The UN Charter was broken by Washington, now derided as a pariah state in the world, which wants to move on in unison.
Washington has divorced itself and the American people from the hearts and minds of the international community. It is time for regime change.
This is the legacy of Iraq, the crowning glory in the crown of the clown, George W. Bush.
This is the face of raving paranoia, of a disconnect from reality so vast that it may not be possible to bridge it. This is the worldview of a man who is utterly consumed and driven by hatred of America. This is the deep end, folks. This is insanity.
Sadly, this is also not particularly rare. Certainly his opinions are not rare, though few others are quite as frank in declaring them. And this is the millstone around John Kerry's neck: a substantial proportion of the core supporters of the Democratic party largely agree with Bancroft-Hinchey's view of the US, and Kerry dare not repudiate their beliefs. At the same time, he doesn't dare acknowledge those beliefs for fear of alienating the majority of American voters.
And that is why he prevaricates. He is compelled to speak ambiguously, or to contradict himself, in hopes that both the hardcore leftwing of the Democratic party and the uncommitted center of the American electorate will see things they like in what he says. Yet in the end he cannot succeed. In trying to please everyone he will ultimately please no one. In trying to avoid alienating anyone, he will be perceived as having no position at all, or even worse, he will be perceived as being unwilling to reveal his true position.
That's why Kerry's best weeks in the opinion polls have been those weeks when he was not in the spotlight. But as the campaign continues, he cannot continue to avoid the spotlight.
Update: No matter what happens, the left's faith in its solutions are unshakeable. The Guardian notes the revolt against Arafat. It really, really wants to blame Israel for it all, but can't ultimately bring itself to do so. Nonetheless, the solution is a familiar one: Israel must "offer incentives for moderation". Appeasement is still the answer.
And Arafat must be saved, for if Arafat falls then there would be no one with whom to negotiate.
And please examine this report regarding Senator Max Cleland. In what way does his position really differ from that of Mr. Bancroft-Hinchey?
Update 20040720: V-man comments. (He asks whether ever-increasing anti-Americanism in Europe and embrace there of Socialism would be "a back-door victory of sorts for communism?" I would say that it will rather lead to yet another defeat for Europe, since socialism will yet again fail.)
Update: Howard Hansen responds. He attempts to distill the foreign policy question in this election down to nine points, and offers brief summaries of how "Neo-cons" and the "Looney Left" stand on each of those nine.
I've come to the conclusion that there are really only a few, simple, fundamental disagreements in politics these days.
"Neo-cons" (I hate that term):
- 9/11 was exactly analogous to Pearl Harbor -- it brought us into a full-scale war
- War is sometimes a necessary evil
- The United Nations is a corrupt, untrustworthy organization
- Saudi Arabia is the biggest problem, but we need their oil
- Arabs use Israel as an excuse and a diversion; they use Palestinians as a way to divert public opinion away from their failed regimes
- Islam is a fundamentally flawed religion in serious need of reformation
- People are responsible for their actions
- Killing terrorists will eliminate the terrorist threat
- The majority of the world admires and trusts the United States
"Loony left" (I hate that term too):
- 9/11 was a crime and the perpetrators should be found and punished
- War is bad
- The United Nations is trustworthy
- Saudi Arabia is the biggest problem -- we should go after them first
- Arabs would make peace if Israel would just [fill in the blank]
- Islam is a religion of peace
- "Oppressed people" [them] are victims of their circumstance, "opressors" [us] are responsible for the actions of the oppressed
- Killing terrorists will breed more terrorists without end
- Most people in the world revile the United States and hate our pre-eminence
What do you believe?
LL#4 is not stated correctly. The Looney Left thinks we shouldn't go after anyone at all, not even the Saudis. (LL#5 is the real solution to Saudi Arabia.)
The first seven of his nine "Neo-con" positions are not really ideally stated, but they're not too bad. I had significant problems with the last two. I explained why in a comment I left there:
"Killing terrorists" is a necessary part of the war because it reduces the danger to us over the short run. But it is not sufficient in the long run. It is a holding action, but holding actions are worthwhile.
In the long run the only way to win this war (the big war, the war that people on the left deny even exists) is to induce political and cultural reform in the mid-East.
Oddly, I at least somewhat agree with both versions of statement #9. There is a core group of people out there in the world who feel only hatred and contempt for America. There is a different core group which is unabashedly Americanophile. There is a substantial body of people who don't actually have any opinion about us either way.
But for the most part, people in the world tend to hold very conflicting views of us. They generally hate America as an abstract symbol, an icon, a looming presence off in the distance. But they generally like and admire Americans individually when they meet and get to know them, and they listen to our music and watch our movies and wear our fashions and eagerly flock to our franchise chains. (If the French hate McDonalds so much, why haven't those stores failed due to lack of clientele?)
Most of the abstract expressions of hatred turn out to be inverse expressions of frustration and anger about their own collective failures as nations and as cultures. They hate America because it sets the standard for success, and no one else can measure up.
Obviously that's a gross generalization. But it also makes clear that much of that resentment is irrational and fundamentally apolitical. Despite Chomskyian litanies of American misdeeds, an American cab driver said it best: "These people don't hate us for what we've done that's wrong. They hate us for what we do that's right."
Thus my own statement of #9 would be this:
World opinion of the US is not and should not be the primary focus of American foreign policy.